Thursday, August 11 2022

Black Music Month and June 19 festivities merged Thursday at Woodland Park.

The first annual event of the Gainesville Housing Authority’s Strive for Success program drew around 50 people, with the majority of attendees being children, and featured a DJ and live performance by local drummer Kofi Horne.

“Our desires for our residents to not just feel self-sufficient, but to be self-sufficient,” said Freddie Jones, a 25-year-old resident services specialist for the Gainesville Housing Authority.

The event marked the start of the city’s second annual “Journey to June 19” celebrations, which will continue this weekend.

Juneteenth honors June 19, 1865, the day Union General Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the last enslaved people of the United States in Galveston, Texas. President Joe Biden signed a bill in June 2021 making the day a federal holiday. Gainesville began its month-long celebration on May 20, honoring when Union General Edward McCook read the proclamation that ended slavery in Florida.

Thursday’s event was part of the Strive for Success program, a one-time, subsidized program that empowers residents of affordable housing to better themselves through education, support services, employment and youth services. .

“It’s going to take work, it’s going to take commitment, people are going to want to see, feel and experience change,” Jones said of the program.

Valerie Herring, 49-year-old owner of BIO Beautiful Inside and Out – a vendor at the event – said it was rewarding to be able to raise awareness about mental health while celebrating black history.

The event made him think of slaves who had no one to help them with their mental health issues. It was an honor to be in a position where she could help those in need, she said.

Iris Bailey, the mayor of Archer, said future generations need to be properly educated about black history.

“We need to encourage our children to choose books that are about us,” Bailey said. “We need to know where we come from.”

June 19 should be an important day for children, she said. She hoped a child would speak at the event next year to share what the day means to them.

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Gainesville will host a Journey to Juneteenth Freedom Walk at Depot Park on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and a Freedom Fest at Bo Diddley Plaza from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. There is also a Porters Quarters Fish and Chicken Fry at Shady Grove Church from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, the 4th Ave Food Park will host a Juneteenth Black Maker’s Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the city will host a grand reopening of the Clarence R. Kelly Center from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

More Juneteenth events can be found on the City of Gainesville website.

Contact Jackson Reyes at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.

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jackson reyes

Jackson Reyes is a third-year sports journalism student and generalist reporter for the Metro desk. It’s his first semester at the Alligator. When he’s not reporting, he enjoys saving money, collecting records and playing basketball.

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